Nothing makes bigger fools out of us than football results can! So much for the shortage of goals and scarcity of clean sheets forecast last week by my GW1 tables. In fact, there were more clean sheets than there normally are when we have a full complement of fixtures! And having predicted a near clean sweep of one-one draws, there were zero! This might sound like a remarkable feat of incompetence, but the probability of such an outcome implied by best bookies odds was 39%. And not because of how outlandish my spreadsheet’s predictions were, by the way. In fact, they corresponded remarkably closely with the probabilities assigned by the bookmakers.
In mitigation, the biggest divergences away from my spreadsheet predictions involved the 3 games featuring promoted clubs and, as I explained last week, trying to peg the respective attack and defence strength ratios of promoted teams before the season starts is a guessing game. I also highlighted the ‘known unknown‘ effect of new transfers and, prior to the disappointing performance of Havertz, it seemed as though every single one hit the ground running, and had maximum impact! Think Gabriel, Willian, Wilson, Hendrick, Lewis, Castagne, Allan, Doucoure, Rodriguez, etc.
Understandably, because of the kind of ‘informational disadvantage‘ touched on above, my spreadsheets are likely to be less accurate at the start of a new season. The trouble is that because 8 gameweeks of data for both home and away results represents the optimal data range, we would ideally wait until GW17 before using my spreadsheet’s predictions, but that’s halfway through the season! Instead, we must cling to the hope that the last 8 home and away results from the previous season have some meaningful bearing on the start of the next one. It’s fair to say though that any confidence in this proving so was dented by the opening round of results.
Anyhow, we move; onwards and upwards (not difficult!) to GW2. First off, here are the score predictions, with an added caveat that 7 of these 10 are not actually the scorelines with the highest probability!
Remember the paradox I highlighted last week with regards to WHU vs NEW? And how I explained why 2 – 1 was given as the likeliest score when in fact 1 – 1 had a higher probability? Well, there are not one, but SEVEN such instances this week: EVE 1 – 1 WBA; LEE 1 – 0 FUL; MUN 2 – 0 CRY; ARS 1 – 2 WHU; LEI 1 – 1 BUR; AVL 1 – 0 SHU; and, WOL 0 – 1 MCI. My expectation is that you will find all of these alternative scorelines more plausible, with the exception of the ARS result!
As alluded to last week, there are far stronger candidates for clean sheet this week than last, which pretty much guarantees a complete absence of them if last week is anything to go by! The one that will undoubtedly have people scoffing here is the 61% probability assigned to CHE vs a LIV team that just put 4 past the best defence in the Championship last season.
Please remember though that this is based on The Blues’ last 8 home games and The Reds’ last 8 away and, as discussed in my 2019-20 Season Review, the champions’ form did peter out in the run-in, whereas the fourth place finishers defensive record at home was actually very decent from an xGC point of view. Indeed, their best sequence of 8 home games was better than that of any other team. Shame about the Kepa.
In recognition of the fact that LIV had nothing to play for towards the end of last season, I checked how switching the data from last 8 games only to those for the season as a whole might effect the prediction, and it changed things considerably, reducing the clean sheet probability for the home team to 40%, and making 1 – 1 the likeliest scoreline.
The plea bargaining above should be taken into consideration, therefore, when seeing CHE topping the projected expected goals table below.
MUN would become the table toppers this week if LIV are given the dispensation discussed above, which is good news for all those planning to captain one of Fernandes, Martial or Rashford, with the last named preferred by my spreadsheet’s expected player points table (see below).
WHU were the big underachievers in last week’s predictions, so scepticism about their prominence here, and that of Antonio below, would be understandable. The other team to leap off the page here is BUR, who as discussed in my Season Review blog finished the season with their underlying attacking stats on a noticeable upwards trajectory. Whether or not they return to type at the start of a new season, with the emphasis back on defensive solidity, remains to be seen.
I am in no hurry to repeat the mistake of captaining Antonio again, so I will be entrusting my armband this week to the child poverty champion in the hope that he can feed my team’s hunger for catch up points!
May the flop be with you!
Coley a.k.a. FPL P0ker PlAyer (@barCOLEYna)